This last winter was the first time since high school that my brother and I were both home for more than a week, and it was very cold (or as cold as it could be for Southern California). This led us to build many roaring fires to enjoy while binge watching the Lord of the Rings. As you can see our 25+ year old fireplace grate had seen better days. I got annoyed by constantly having to stoke the fire, that I decided to try making a new one. I had also just gotten a new abrasive chop saw and need an excuse to use it. This is how i built a rebar fireplace grate.
- 3/8″ rebar
After a few internet searches I concluded that rebar was the most viable material to use in lieu or cast iron. Rebar is cheap, it is easy to weld, and it has a relatively high carbon content which means it will take longer to break down in the fire compared to other steels. I decided to use 3/8″ rebar because it small enough to bend without special tools, but thick enough to hold the weight of burning logs.
- Bolt cutters
- Abrasive chop saw (or you could use an angle grinder)
- Welding equipment (I use a Lincoln Tig Welder)
The first step was to measure the fireplace. Our fireplace has a trapezoidal shaped base, so the back of the grate is shorter than the front of the grate. I used a bench top vice grip to hold the rebar while I pulled on the free end to get a 90 degree bend. As the image below shows, I put measurement marks on the rebar so I would know who much excess to put below the jaws based on where it bent in order to get consistency through all bends.
Once I had the first bend made, and knowing how much of the length was taken up from the bend (see above comment about end marks) I was able to cut the length of rebar needed. I then mounted the non bent end in the vice grip and proceed to bend it. The second bend did not come out planar with the first bend (because only using my eyeballs and a bench vice). To remedy this I clamped one rebar leg while using a piece of pipe as a lever arm to twist the two legs to be planar. This process was used to make the front and rear support. The four cross arms were bent in the same manner, but only on one end.
Now that the front and rear bases of the fire grate where made, I needed a way to hold them up and at the proper spacing while I welded on the cross arms. To get it at the proper spacing, I took a piece of rebar the depth of the fireplace and tack welded it between the bases. This piece was easily knocked away with a hammer later.
I decided to check and make sure the grate fit in the fire place before I added the last two cross arms. To my surprise, it was too long to fin in the fireplace. This was because the spacing piece of rebar I used did not account for the thickness of the base piece. Lesson learned, measure twice cut once or use common sense. Luckily, the cross arms had really nice angles on them so I was able to cut them, and slide the rear support forward. After that, I welded on the last two cross arms.